I didn’t know that it was so cold and
You needed someone to show you the
So I took your hand and we figured
When the time comes I’ll take you
If you want to,
I can save you
I can take you away from here...
So lonely inside,
So busy out there
And all you wanted was somebody who
I’m sinking slowly,
So hurry hold me
Your hand is all I have to keep me
...80 years before...
"Father the storm’s getting worse!" Elrohir called above the howl of
the wind, shouting to be heard, even though his father rode less than
half a stone’s throw away on his right.
Snow was blowing everywhere, driven by the fury of the gale-force winds
sweeping over the flat countryside. Elladan and Elrohir both had the
hoods of their cloaks pulled far down
over their heads, attempting to shield their eyes against the driving
snow and wind, but with little success. The cold was biting and chilled
even their elven bodies to the bone.
Elrond nodded silently, his own hood pulled low and held in place by
one gloved hand, while the other rested soothingly on the neck of his
horse, who liked the storm even less than the elves did. Through the
blinding snow he could barely even see the outline of the animal’s coal
black head and ears. In this driving wind and whiteness, not even his
elven eyes could help him much.
They were not yet even a quarter of the way back to Rivendell and in
this blizzard that was a target too far off to hope for.
"The horses won’t take much more of this," he shook his head, returning
his sons’ gazes steadily. "They have not our endurance for this biting
cold. Over there is a thicket of trees. They may break the wind
a little. We must try to shelter there until things improve. The storm
cannot maintain this kind of fury forever." The elf lord pointed to a
wavering black blur just at the edge of their vision and all three of
them rode towards it.
As Elrond had said, once they were underneath the sheltering boughs of
the pine trees still arrayed in waving, tossing green despite the
bitter cold, some of the wind's fury was buffered by the many thick
trunks, boughs and pine needles, although their
position was still far from comfortable or safe.
The three elves dismounted and unrolled the blankets strapped behind
them like saddlebags across their mounts. Covering the horses, who were
shivering obviously now, the elves spoke soft words of comfort and
warmth into the animals’ ears, which did actually seem to help them a
Elladan clenched his fingers tightly in his horse’s mane, his already
pale knuckles going even whiter. "Sending us back out into this
blizzard like wayward beggars at his doors..." he murmured, his anger
hot enough to warm him despite the snow. "Does that man want to kill us
Elrond laid a gentle hand on his son’s tense shoulder. Truly, if Mannyn
had been anywhere near a decent man or at least a decent host, he would
have invited the guests to stay rather than forcing them to attempt
the homeward journey in this weather, but the elf Lord had expected no
better from the man and was not overly surprised.
Elladan pulled away roughly, huddling closer to his horse and burying
his face against its neck. "I’d like to kill him!" he vented his
muffled rage into the animal’s soft coat, ashamed of his own words as
he said them, but burning up inside with so much anger, hurt and fear
that he could not hold them back. "I’d like to throttle him until he
chokes! And he’d deserve it!" Elladan shook with broken rage, refusing
to look into his father’s face and see what he knew would be there. "It
is his own fault that his son is dead! Not Estel’s!" The wind howled
around them, even under the shelter of the trees its sharp bite took
their breath away.
Elladan clenched his eyes tighter shut. Somewhere, out there, was
Estel, with a cruel man whom Legolas had all but said was mistreating
him. If the three elves were nearly freezing to death out here... what
must be happening to his human brother?
"Hating Mannyn won’t lessen the storm or bring Estel back to us." The
words were soft and sad, and Elrond had rightly pegged the true reason
for Elladan’s anger. He did not blame his son for feeling the way he
did; it would be a lie to say he had not felt the same anger pass over
him more than once when talking with Mannyn, but carrying that kind of
hate only hurt the bearer and he did not want that for his son.
Especially if... if something had happened to Estel.
Elrohir watched them quietly, but said nothing. His own heart was too
heavy, although his sadness went quicker to grief than to the anger
Turning the younger elf around to face him, Elrond softly pried
Elladan’s fingers free of the horse’s mane. He could feel the frozen
chill of his son’s bare hands through his gloves. "Elladan, where are
your gloves?" he asked somewhat sternly. Frostbite was not a problem
Elladan shrugged indifferently, looking away and still refusing to meet
his father’s eyes. "I don’t know. I may have forgotten to bring them,
or left them at Mannyn’s house. I don’t remember."
Elrond sighed. Elladan had to be truly disturbed to be that careless,
for he was usually the more cautious of the twins. Pulling his own
gloves off, Elrond placed them into his son’s hand and closed Elladan’s
fingers around them. "You have a right to be angry. If any harm comes
to Estel, I will be the first to wish those who caused it the slowest
death Illuvatar saw fit to give them," the elf lord said quietly,
leaning close so his son could hear him. "But when someone wrongs you,
Elladan, you have a choice: you can let them sow anger and vengeance in
your heart and so win a double victory over you, or you can take the
truly difficult path and remain true to what you know is right, what is
really in your heart, the wish for justice and not revenge." Elrond
laid his hand gently over his son’s heart, his gaze willing the younger
elf to look at him.
Elladan finally met his father’s eyes. "I know you are right. I’m
sorry, I just..." he couldn’t finish.
"I know," Elrond pulled the younger elf close. "I know."
Elladan allowed his father to embrace him. He may have been older than
the oldest trees in the glade around them in years, but sometimes he
still felt very young. Thus was the natural oddity of elves, eternally
old, perpetually young.
Elrohir held back, standing beside the horses and not wishing to
interrupt, but Elrond saw his red-rimed eyes, although the absolute
cold around them would have frozen tears before they could fall. He
knew how much the twins loved their younger brother, and he understood
their helpless pain all too well. Still holding Elladan gently with one
arm, Elrond opened the other and beckoned for the younger of his twins
to come to him as well. Although they looked most like their father,
Elrond continually saw so much of their mother in them, so much
sometimes that it pained his heart at her memory. She had always
carried her feelings near the surface, even as his sons seemed to, with
a heart big enough to care and grieve for all of Middle-earth it
seemed, but with a love so encompassing as to heal all its hurts as
well. He missed her. Someday he would follow her over the sea and see
her in happier times, but he knew that that would not be his path for
many years yet.
Elrohir accepted his father’s invitation and for several long moments
they remained thus, drawing comfort from one another. Elrond held his
sons’ shoulders gently, wishing them the solace he himself could not
find. The fear that they would never see Estel again weighed heavily on
his heart, bringing home once again just how much the young human truly
had become a part of their family. Comfort he could give his sons, yet
none he had for himself, but Elrond was deep and hard to read unless
one looked closely into the depths of his eyes. Only in those ageless
and yet ancient windows of his soul could be caught a glimpse of what
was really in his heart.
All was silent for a few moments, for the wind had abated somewhat.
Suddenly Elrond’s head, which had fallen to rest on the top of his
sons’ heads, came up. Far away, as if in a memory or a dream, he
thought he had heard something. Something out of place in the middle of
this snow-covered desolation.
Elladan and Elrohir looked at him questioningly, but the elf lord
placed his fingers to his lips in a request for silence, so they all
stood listening intently.
There, they heard it, all of them this time. A faint, sweet
sound, like a lone bird singing a soft, sad and slightly desperate song
amid the ravages of the winter world... yet it was no bird, for there
were words in the snatches of tune brought to their keen elven ears on
the wind. Elvish words.
"It’s Legolas!" Elrohir recognized the voice first. "That’s Legolas’
voice, I’m almost sure of it!"
Elrond nodded once, immediately making his way back to his horse. "It
is, and he is close. We must find him." They would have gone searching
for the prince on his own account, but unspoken between them was the
hope, however faint, that if they found Legolas, Aragorn might also be
Once they left the shelter of the trees, the storm slammed into them
full force again, but they battled its clutches, straining to trace
the faint, broken wisps of song carried on the raging winds.
Elrond’s face was grim as they changed direction for the sixth time.
Legolas’ song was getting closer and easier to hear, but it was
faltering more frequently now and he read in it a weariness that should
not have belonged to an elf. "We must hurry," he urged his sons and
their mounts. "Or I fear we shall come there too late."
I’m sinking slowly,
So hurry hold me
Your hand is all I have to keep me
Legolas shivered uncontrollably, clutching Aragorn tightly to his chest
and trying to give whatever warmth he had left to the ranger as the
snow piled up around them. The rock ledge at their back was precious
little protection and the drifts were creeping higher and closer. Night
was fast approaching and the temperature would only keep going down.
They would never survive until dawn.
Legolas knew they should probably move again, should try to find better
shelter... but he was too weary now and too unfamiliar with the land.
He felt completely drained and didn’t know if he could carry Aragorn
any further, and even if he could, where would they go?
So much of Legolas’ strength was going towards the violently shivering,
nearly unresponsive young man clutched tightly in his arms that the elf
barely even realized that his own body was freezing and slowly
beginning to succumb to the bitter, bitter cold. And if he did notice,
he did not seem to care. Either they made it out of here together, or
neither of them did.
He kept singing because as long as he did, he could feel Aragorn
holding on. Gripping the young man’s hand as tightly as his own frozen
fingers allowed, Legolas provided the human with the only lifeline he
had to offer, the only anchor that was still holding Aragorn’s spirit
from flying away beyond reach on the wings of the merciless wind.
Unfortunately, Legolas knew he could not hold onto his friend by the
force of his will forever. Yet while there was a breath of life left in
his body, he would try.
His song became barely a frozen whisper, a sad lament for summer
long gone, perhaps never to return. The tune was still sweet and clear,
but the words began to stutter as the elf prince’s frozen lips became
heavier and harder to move.
The cold wanted him. It wanted them both. Like a ravening beast it
sought them, but Legolas still fought it, fought it for both of them.
He forced himself to sing around frostbit lips and hurting throat,
parched and frozen from the harsh dry air... because somehow he knew
that when he stopped, they would both die.
He sang until his voice failed him and the freezing cold at last
reached his heart. Legolas sank forward slowly, unable to fight anymore
on his own. Bowing his head over Aragorn’s, and resting his cheek
against the top of the ranger’s head, Legolas closed his eyes. His
strength was gone and there was nothing now between either he or
Aragorn and the deathly cold that waited for them.
Away to the west, Elrond and his sons froze in heart-stopping alarm as
they heard the song falter and die, ripped away by the merciless wind.